Time for Muslims to rework strategy
OT, October 23, 2011 IST
Could bloodshed in Uttarakhand’s Rudrupur have been averted? Could the Bharatpur mayhem in Rajasthan have been prevented? We may never know for sure. But one thing is certain that these incidents have sparked an animated debate in New Delhi’s Okhla about how to avoid such a situation. When Okhla residents came to know about the Rudrupur riots they immediately recalled the Batla House incident that had rocked the locality a few years ago. Then the report of desecration of the Holy Quran had spread like wild fire with many youngsters going berserk. Some gathered outside the local police station, demanding action against the policeman involved in the case. A few had resorted to stone pelting. Enraged mobs had made an unsuccessful attempt to even burn the Shaheen Bagh police station.
The incident didn’t lead to any bloodshed as it happened in Rudrupur. But, the police in retaliation, according to some locals, had damaged many cars parked on Abul Fazal Enclave roads. Later on many trouble makers were rounded up.
On further investigation it was found that the whole issue was cooked up as the Holy book turned out to be an Urdu book. The police in their efforts to clean up the area so that traffic could flow smoothly had forced unwanted vendors to remove their roadside stalls. The vendors were upset with the development and hence they created a ruckus giving the whole issue a religious turn that was later on cashed by local leaders and ruffians.
We don’t know what happened in Rudrupur? We are yet to meet an eyewitness who saw things unfold. That is why many educated people of Rudrupur are divided over the issue. They strongly disapprove of the violent protest that Muslims staged outside the local police station. This is not for the first time that such a thing has happened in India.
Since independence, the country has been witnessing riots in which mostly Muslims have been at the receiving end. Reports coming out from Rudrupur point out that this time also business establishments of Muslims have been targeted.
Of late rioters have been eying businesses. Even a minor disturbance leads an attack on business establishments. Like previous riots, in Rudrupur also Muslims have been the biggest sufferer with most of their shops being looted and burned. But the irony is that they are yet to rectify their acts and learn from their past mistakes. By reacting violently at times Muslim youths invite trouble and provide an opportunity to others to harm them. Also, they play into the hands of the propagandists who go extra mile to paint Islam as a ‘violent religion, incompatible with a civil society and that Muslims are intolerant who cannot live with others in a multi-cultural society’.
It is high time Muslims learnt a few lessons from Rudrupur incidents. Foremost, they should learn to respect life. And they should adopt other peaceful means to make their voice heard. The burning of the Holy book is wrong but a violent protest is not the reply. Muslims life is more important than the dignity of Kabah, according to a Hadith.
Blaming wayward youngsters for all the misery won’t be just. Muslim leadership and organizations too are squarely responsible for the situation. They have never taken such issues seriously. Whenever riots take place they give statements. To steal the show with their compatriot, many even flock the riot-torn areas. They condemn the government, call police force communal and blame RSS for all this. Other than this they have done nothing. This happened after Rudurpur riots also when all Okhla-based Muslim organization and self-acclaimed Muslim messiahs competed with each others to be first to criticize the government. For many Islam has become a short cut to swell their personal coffer.
The irony is that in the last more than 60 years no organization has come forward with a blueprint to tackle such a situation. Leaders are clueless. They are busy organizing seminars, inviting political leaders and trying their best to get close to the rulers. A few are even ready to barter the community for Rajya Sabha seat or some bucks. Sitting in Delhi, they feel that they are the only good men who can extricate the community from poverty, illiteracy and backwardness. But all these have not worked with the Muslims’ situation only getting from bad to worse.
A concerted effort needs to be made by community leaders to address these burning issues. An awareness campaign should be launched to train youngsters how to tackle such a volatile situation. Also, Muslim organizations should sit together and iron out their differences. They should take up the task of community building by starting quality schools, hospitals, creating health awareness, women education, and convincing hot-headed youths that violent means are not of any help.
Moreover, the community leaders should also take a vow not to get involved in any controversies and only concentrate on development issues. These are uphill task for the leaders who for the last many years have been building their popularity by raising emotional issues and rhetoric. Let’s make a beginning from Okhla, an urban ghetto, where most of the Muslim organizations have their headquarters.
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